Moving to Paris

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Our family may relocate to Paris

Dec 2009

Our family is considering relocating to Paris in a few months for my husband's career. The whole family thinks it would be a great opportunity for all of us; however this just fell into our lap. We don't speak French (the job is an international one that requires business be done in English) and I'm having trouble getting any info about what it costs to live there, where to live, whether we should send the kids to a bilingual school or send them to the local French school.

All of this factors into whether we can afford to go. The company will pay to relocate us, but where to live and whether we'll like it and can afford to travel, and whether we'd have to send the kids to the tres expensive American School for them to be happy, is up to us to figure out!

The kids will be in K and 3rd grade next year. The job is in Garches, on the SCNF line west of Paris. The books I have found on relocating start off with ''so you fell in love with France: learn as much French as you can...'' I keep thinking of the moms at my kids school who packed up their family from Mexico and moved here sight unseen, who try to talk to other moms but understand every other word, how hard they concentrate when I talk to them, and it scares me. On the other hand, it's a chance to see Europe in a way you can't as a tourist, and just because it's scary doesn't mean we shouldn't do it! If anyone has any information on cost of living, how to calculate take home pay from gross at French tax rates, living in Garches or the 16th (or others) Arrondissment, or generally relocating to a country where you don't (yet) speak the language, please let me know!

We are going there in January for a scouting expedition, I'm just trying to narrow it down some before then. Thank you! Trying to avoid an expensive mistake

Hi Moving to Paris: Husband did his sabbatical in Paris and we lived there for a year with our two children. There are many, many pros and a few cons. Start learning French ASAP. Your children may have an easier time if they go to an intl school, depending on the anticipated length of your stay. We could not afford a ''private'' school, so our children attended a local French ''public'' school. It was, by our Bay Area standards, a rough experience, though a thicker-skinned child might fare better. There is a wonderful expat support program through the American Church in Paris, avail at no charge. Would we do it again, for sure, but a bit differently. If you have addtl questions, feel free to email me direct.

We are a Berkeley family that moved to the Dordogne Region 5 years ago. We have 2 daughters, that were 8 & 9 years old at the time. None of us spoke French when we arrived. They did a ''summer camp'' to try to help them start learning french. It helped a little. The first few months in the local french school was hard on them. But by Christmas, they were ''getting it'' and by the end of the year, they both were in the top 3 of their classes. Now, they are so fluent that each new school year, the teachers don't know they are american. They have no accent, and they are completely bi-lingual. The schools here are safer than in America, and life is really good here. I can't say for Paris, but we have no regrets at all. Good luck Renata

Moving to Paris with a 4-year-old

June 2003

We're moving to Paris in August with our four year old. Any recommendations on schools, places to live (Paris or close in suburbs), finding apartments, french classes, resources for english speakers or farmer's markets would be greatly appreciated. Also, I have a job there, but my wife does not. Any experiences with getting working visas for a spouse would also be appreciated. Many thanks! toby

My wife and I moved from Berkeley to Paris in late 2000 with our then-infant daughter. Here are some resources for you.

1. Bloom Where You're Planted. This refers to both a book and a workshop. The book is published (annually, I think) by the American Church of Paris. The workshop is conducted each fall by the ACP. I can't speak about the workshop, nor about the ACP generally, but the book is worth getting (ideally now, before you move).

2. MESSAGE. This is a nonprofit group for anglophone parents (we dads were recently allowed to join for the first time). MESSAGE (a loose acronym for Mother's English-Speaking Support Group) publishes a quarterly newsletter with articles, ads, and activity listings. The activity listings are mostly one-time play-sessions, with a description of the appropriate ages, and are organized area by area. For more info, go to

3. ABC's of Motherhood In Paris. This is a book published by MESSAGE.

4. Paris Inside Out: The Insider's Handbook To Life In Paris. This is a book by David Applefield, probably available at Cody's.

5. Le Paris des Tout-Petits. This is a book, in French, with brief descriptions of thousands of shops, classes, schools, etc., for kids. It's sold at most bookstores here.

6. Chez Vous En France: Living & Working In France. This is a book written by Genevihve Brame and distributed by HSD Ernst & Young, the E law firm affiliate in France.

7. The Blue Book: Guide For US Citizens Residing In France. This is a guide published by the US embassy in Paris. The info is also available at

8. AAWE Guide To Education. This is a guide to anglophone and bilingual schools in France, published by the Association of American Wives of Europeans. I don't know if they have a website, but the email address is aawe at

9. French or Foe? Getting The Most Out Of Visiting, Living, And Working In France. This is a book by Polly Platt, probably available at Cody's.

10. Culture Shock! Paris At Your Door. This is a book by Frances Gendlin, probably available at Cody's. The Culture Shock! series also has a book on France in general.

Finally, if you are being moved by your employer then you will probably use the services of a relocation company to help you find an apartment, choose a school, etc. If your employer is not paying for this as part of a relocation package, then you should consider paying out-of-pocket for a relocation company-- it could be money well spent. The one that we used (paid for by my wife's employer) was called Cosmopolitan.

Good luck. Drew

I can't answer any of your questions, but I just wanted to recommend the book, ''Paris to the Moon,'' by Adam Gopnik. It's his story about moving to Paris with his wife and their (3 or 4) year old son. I'm sure you'd enjoy reading about someone's else's experience doing what you're doing. (Especially because he's such a great writer, in my opinion). Jealous in Oakland, America